John Bruce, Staff Writer
KINNKINNICK — Using a mix of deadly long-range shooting and offensive balance, Zane Trace was able to overcome an outstanding performance from New Hope Christian’s Maren McCallister to kick off the 24th Annual Zane Trace Tip-Off Classic with a victory.
In a 66-54 win over New Hope Christian, the Pioneers shot an unconscious 10-of-21 from 3-point range to get their second win in two tries this season.
The Statesmen (0-2) jumped out to an early lead behind McCallister in the opening minutes, as the junior found each and every gap in the Pioneer defense to go to the basket.
When those gaps closed up, she used accuracy from the mid-range to score, too, making her a dynamic threat on the offensive end.
The Pioneers got out of the gates slowly, but a jolt off the bench from Alara Crow and Alexis Farley meant the red, white and blue were going to control the glass. A 3-pointer from Kinley May on the wing tied the game at 10 late in the opening stanza and Crow scored from 10 feet out to give the Pioneers a 12-10 lead after a quarter of play.
The pace and shooting was about to pick up, with the two squads combining for 40 points in the second quarter alone.
New Hope’s McCallister, Jenna Tripp and Eden Leist each dialed it up from long distance to keep the Statesmen close, but a switch to a pressure defense for the Pioneers gave them the eventual lead for good halfway through the quarter.
Following a Kyrsten O’Neil triple, the senior jumped into a passing lane for a steal that she converted into an old-fashioned three-point play on the other end for an 18-16 Zane Trace lead, one that they never gave up. A possession later, it would be Gracey McCullough knocking down a 3-ball, then swiping a pass to score on the opposite end to extend the Pioneers’ lead late in the half.
With Tripp in foul trouble for the Statesmen, McCallister would need to shoulder more of the load to keep them in the game and she more than answered the call. The 5-foot-11 junior scored nine straight points for the Statesmen, cutting into the Pioneers’ lead each time.
However, each time it felt like New Hope was going to get back into the contest, Zane Trace would answer emphatically on the offensive end.
This time it would be Kendra Detillion who answered the call. The sophomore sank back-to-back deep triples to push the Pioneers to an eight-point lead late in the half. The only momentum going back to New Hope came as McCallister drove coast-to-coast in the waning seconds to hit a tough runner at the buzzer and cut the deficit to 34-28 at the half.
Zane Trace head coach Todd O’Dell made a key defensive switch at halftime, using a combination of McCullough, Avery Johnson and Brooklyn Wade to shadow McCallister all over the court. McCallister was able to still score 15 second half points, but the defensive pressure on her made it more difficult for her teammates to get her the ball in scoring positions. The added pressure caused numerous turnovers that the Pioneers converted into baskets on the offensive end.
Along with the defensive switch, the Pioneers began to rain down even more 3’s to push their lead to 16 after the third quarter. Johnson, May, McCullough, O’Neil and Crow all hit triples in the second half, while Emily Allen began to get going on the interior to give the Pioneers a great offensive mix.
New Hope won its only quarter in the fourth, but it would be too little, too late for the Statesmen.
Maren McCallister led all scorers in the game with 33 points and she also added 17 rebounds. Junior classmate Jenna Tripp joined her in double figures with 10 points.
Alara Crow led the Pioneers with 13 points off the bench alongside seven rebounds. Gracey McCullough added 12 points and a game-high four assists. Kinley May also reached double figures with 10 points.
Zane Trace will now have time to prepare for its Scioto Valley Conference opener on Thursday, where it hosts the undefeated Paint Valley Bearcats. Meanwhile, New Hope Christian will travel to Liberty Christian Academy on Tuesday.
New Hope: 10-18-11-15 — 54
Zane Trace: 12-22-21-11 — 66
New Hope: 17-43 FG, 15-22 FT, 5-13 3pt., 35 rebounds, 20 turnovers, 7 assists. Scoring: Crow 13, McCullough 12, May 10, O’Neil 9, Allen 8, Detillion 6, Farley 3, Johnson 3.
Zane Trace: 25-66 FG, 6-11 FT, 10-21 3pt., 34 rebounds, 11 turnovers, 15 assists. Scoring: McCallister 33, Tripp 10, Leist 5, Winner 2, Anderson 2, Hines 2.